Category Archives: Places of Interest

Going back home

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The first three weekends of April kept us very busy last month! Both our sending church and our hometown church celebrate missions in the month of April, so we headed to Pennsylvania several times to go “back home.”

The first weekend of April called for us to travel to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Allentown was our home before moving to Kenya. Aaron completed internship, residency, and fellowship there. I birthed three children there. We found a wonderful church and great Christian friends there. We loved our time in the Lehigh Valley, and it was where we had planned to return to serve this Home Ministry Assignment. Of course, we all know that didn’t happen, but we were excited to return to this home.

Leaving Goode, VA early Saturday morning, we were on our way to Macungie, PA to help kick off our sending church’s missions festival. Salem Bible Church set aside the month of April to focus on missions. They not only highlighted the missionaries they support but also encouraged members to get involved. We were privileged to be a part of this massive endeavor.

Aaron was scheduled to give the sermon to both Sunday morning services. Then, we were planning to stay for the international lunch and festival. As one of several missionaries on furlough, we were just a portion of the ‘entertainment.’ We set up a mock Tenwek Casualty department with the help of our pit crew (the group designated by the church to be our main support people). Everything was planned and re-planned and prepped.

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God had different plans however. There was a strong wind storm in the mountains of the Lehigh Valley Saturday night, and it knocked out the power to thousands of residents in the area. Unfortunately, Salem Bible Church had no power and therefore had to postpone the Sunday morning activities. Aaron, having to work early Monday morning, left for home. The boys and I stayed and re-planned our weekend.

Power was restored by Sunday evening, and the missions lunch/festival was turned into the missions dinner/festival. This was great news, except that it meant that I had to perform the Tenwek skit without Aaron. Pit crew to the rescue again!

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One friend acted on Aaron’s behalf, and even wore his white coat. Other friends read the lines for the patients and students. Noah volunteered to be the Masai injured by a hippo. Everyone pitched in at the last minute…And it was great!

The boys and I spent the week in PA. Half of our time was spent catching up with friends in the Lehigh Valley, and half of our time was spent with my parents in central PA. We were reunited with Aaron on Saturday back in Macungie. He delivered his sermon to both services on Sunday morning, and then we travelled back to Goode.

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Believe it or not, Joshua LOVED the baby chickens!

Our week at (our Goode) home was super busy with appointments and school and life as usual. Then, we loaded the van again for another trip to PA. This time we returned to our hometown, Mifflintown. Mifflintown, PA is where Aaron and I both grew up. We started dating in high school and attended Cedar Grove Brethren In Christ Church together before heading off to college. We were excited to visit this other home church and to see so many familiar faces.

Again, our weekend was fully planned. We attended the missions dinner and had the opportunity to share what God had done in our lives during our first term at Tenwek. The theme was Kamping with the Kelleys, and several people brought their RV’s or tents to camp out in the church parking lot. My dad and his friend roasted a pig, and we ate way too much food.

The next morning, we were scheduled to speak during the Sunday School hour. Aaron spoke to a combined adult class, while I taught a combined children’s class. I’m sure Aaron gave a great presentation, but I know that I had a lot of fun with the K-5 class! We sang in Swahili, ate yummy treats, looked at pictures of our daily life on the field, and learned about the Kenyan flag and mandazi.

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As soon as we were finished with our presentations, we packed up and raced back home, our current home. School and daily life always come too quickly when we spend the weekends away from home.

Since these three weeks of travel, we have enjoyed more downtime. In fact, we don’t have any more travel plans until late June. July will be another busy month with many nights away from home, but until then we will treasure our time in Goode. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our newest family member, and we all need this time to rest.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God for His sovereignty! He is a good, good Father. May we run to Him even when we don’t understand what He is doing.

2.) Please pray for the Nichols and Hentzel families as they mourn the loss of Harold and Randy. If you haven’t heard this sad news, please read Aaron’s blog post about it.

3.) Please pray for us as we continually seek God’s will for our lives. May we trust in His timing, His provision, and His plans.

4.) Please continue to pray for homeschooling and my pregnancy. I’m feeling good, and I’m hopeful that I’ll finish up the majority of school in the next 2-3 weeks and that I won’t go into labor before then.

Psalm 33:4-11

For the word of the LORD is right and true;

he is faithful in all he does.

The LORD loves righteousness and justice;

the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;

he puts the deep into storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all the people of the world revere him.

For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood firm.

The LORD foils the plans of the nations;

he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,

the purposes of his heart through all generations.

 

 

November Blessings

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November Blessings

November was questionably the busiest month of the year. We traveled every weekend! Since I didn’t take the time to write down what I was thankful for as the month was going by, I’ll publish my list now…and I’ll include the praises and prayer requests as I go.

1 – I am thankful for my salvation and the faithfulness of God!

2 – I am thankful for my friends, both near and far!

3 – I am thankful that God is the Great Provider! He supplies over and above what we need! Praise His name!!

4 – I am thankful that I can drive to my parents’ and my in-laws’ homes in a day! It’s so nice to see family on a regular basis!!

5 – Aaron and I drove to Lousiville, Kentucky for the Global Missions Health Conference. It was a busy but blessed time of reconnecting with fellow missionaries and meeting prospective missionaries. Please pray that God would call medical professionals to fill the many openings around the world and that those who are called would go!

6 – I’m thankful for all that is going well in the world. There were so many organizations represented at the conference, and they were all serving God. I’m also thankful that I got to meet Jamie Saint!

Nate Saint's grandson!

Nate Saint’s grandson!

7 – I’m thankful for lunch meat. I had the best ham and cheese on rye sandwich while at GMHC. I wish I had a picture!

8 – I’m thankful for Tenwek Hospital. Please pray for the hospital staff, administration, patients, and all involved in the ministry there.

9 – I am thankful for Aaron and the boys. While it’s nice to get away without kids, it’s always nice to be under one roof again!

10 – Levi had his wellness visit and failed both his vision and hearing screenings. We have followed up on his eyes…Praise God that he doesn’t need glasses! Please pray that his hearing is fine too.

11 – I’m thankful for freedom and all the men and women who paid for it. Veterans are awesome!

12 – Aaron and I traveled to Asheville, NC for a time of debriefing at the Cove. It was another fun time of meeting new people and reconnecting with friends.

13 – The Summit team took us to a ropes course. It was fun to work together as a team and then eat a yummy meal as a large group.

14 – I’m thankful for naps and date nights!

15 – I’m thankful for the way God has kept us safe during all our travels!

16 – I am very thankful for new life! We are expecting Baby #6 on June 10, 2016!!

taken at 10 weeks

taken at 10 weeks

17 – Jacob and Noah had their wellness checks, and they both passed with flying colors! Praise God for healthy boys!!

18 – I had an eye appointment. When I first went to the eye doctor, he discovered an infection on my left eye. At this follow-up appointment, the infection had cleared but it uncovered a ‘cornea infiltration’ in both eyes. I’m not sure what they means, but I do know that it requires me to where my glasses for another 3 months! Please pray that my eyes would heal completely.

19 – We studied Norway for 2 1/2 weeks this month, and we celebrated with open-faced fancy sandwiches and potato soup. It’s a blessing to homeschool! (Sometimes I must remind myself of this, but it IS true.)

Noah's sandwich creation was simple and unique.

Noah’s sandwich creation was simple and unique.

20 – I’m thankful for my sister! (I’m thankful for my brother too, but November 20 is my sister’s birthday.)

21 – I’m thankful for Salem Bible Church!! It is the best sending church a missionary could ask for! It was a pleasure to see so many Salem ladies on this day!

22 – We spoke at Upper Path Valley Presbyterian Church! We pray blessings upon this congregation as they seek God’s will and obey.

Aaron sharing God's plan for our next term.

Aaron sharing God’s plan for our next term.

23 – I’m thankful for family time. I love seeing my boys play with their cousins!

Pappy trying to build a Lincoln Log house with 3 little people!

Pappy trying to build a Lincoln Log house with 3 little people!

24 – I’m thankful for this time of rest! While Aaron had to work, the boys and I stayed in PA to have more family time, which meant I could rest!

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25 – I’m thankful for Noah’s creativity. Here is his Lego creation of our family.

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26 – I’m thankful for seeing so many of my extended family members today! What a great day of food and fellowship!!

27 – I am thankful for the warm weather. The boys have enjoyed lots of time outside.

28 – I am very thankful that the rest of the year slows down a bit. We should spend the majority of nights in our own beds in December!

29 – I’m thankful for a live Christmas tree! I missed that smell!

30 – I’m thankful for the Advent season. May Christ be at its center!

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

September Blessings

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Whoa! Where did September go? It was mighty busy. We traveled many of the weekends. On the days in between, we were often consumed with homeschooling, clubs, errands, and chores. I knew our time in the States would go quickly, but I didn’t know it would be quite the whirlwind that has been.

But God knew. When 2015 was just beginning, God convicted me to dedicate posts about the ways He is blessing us. He challenged me to look for His glory and goodness. Some months, the blessings overflowed, and these posts were so easy to write. However, I’m not going to lie, other months haven’t been so smooth.

I’ve had a hard time transitioning back into American life. Before leaving Tenwek, I tried to anticipate some of the struggles and prepare myself. I’m afraid to admit it, but I failed miserably. I’ve been so overwhelmed by life, by my circumstances, and I haven’t been as joyful as I should be.

But God knew. He knew that it would be hard. He knew that these months were ahead of me when I quickly published the January Blessings post. While choosing joy these past months has been harder than I thought it would be, I’m making choosing joy a discipline. These posts help me see how very blessed I am in the midst of the lonely, overwhelming, and mundane days. They show me that God is indeed in control even when my head races with a thousand questions. So here is my list of September blessings. To GOD be the glory!

One of the biggest joys of the month happened September 13 in Mifflintown, PA. We visited the church where Aaron’s dad preached for many, many years. It’s a beautiful Presbyterian church in the center of our little hometown. Aaron delivered an informative and powerful message to the congregation, and then we enjoyed lunch together. The boys loved seeing the places where Aaron grew up and committed all kinds of mischief. They even found a dead bat!

The boys helping to entertain Joshua before the service starts.

The boys helping to entertain Joshua before the service starts.

Another big, big joy was having some medical students over for supper. It has been our prayer that God would use Aaron to encourage students at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) to consider missions. That is already happening! In fact, some students entered medical school with the intentions of serving overseas at a mission hospital. It’s exciting to see what God is doing here in Virginia to impact the world! On September 24, we hosted 4 students in our home for a fiesta.

The boys made paper flowers and a piñata!

I hope the students who will be our guests in the future don’t expect such a party. We had been studying Mexico in school, so we just had to end the unit with a fiesta. We spent the week preparing. We made a piñata for our entertainment, paper flowers for our decor, and lots of food. We even found Mexican soda at the grocery store. The boys were so excited that they waited outside for hours. To pass some of the time, they decorated the sidewalk with chalk.

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While homeschooling can be an all-consuming, exhausting endeavor, there are times when it is over-the-top fun. This was definitely one of those fun times!!

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An unexpected blessing happened this month as well. I joined a book/knitting club! For those of you who know me well, you know that I do love to knit, but that I don’t typically read for pleasure. I can’t think of five novels that I’ve read since becoming a mother. I read. A lot. But not fiction. When a friend invited me to join her at KnitWits, I agreed but I was secretly thinking that I wouldn’t like it. I didn’t even open the book before attending! To my surprise, it was a lot of fun! I’m actually reading the book for the next meeting! Then, I might be able to add to the conversation while I knit away at my little blanket.

Levi enjoys his first circus peanut.

Levi enjoys his first circus peanut.

Lastly, there have been some ongoing blessings this month. The first one is Awana. The boys are enjoying their Wednesday evenings, and I’m praying that they’ll each find a good friend. Levi is often found studying the badges he can earn for his vest, but he can’t quite figure out why Jacob’s book has more options than his.

Levi in his prized Awana vest!

Levi sporting his prized Awana vest!

Another one is family time. One of the greatest joys of mine since being back in the States is watching how the boys have become such good friends. They fight, of course, but they do play well together most days. I also love watching them reunite with their cousins. We were able to visit Aaron’s sister’s family in North Carolina, and the boys tried to convince us to move in with them! They had such a great time! We’ve also seen grandparents and other family from Pennsylvania earlier in the month. It’s so neat to see them love each other as if they see each other every day.

Then, there’s Joshua. He still has his screeching days, but his behavior has improved overall. He has conquered the stairs, and he is ever exploring something (usually something that he shouldn’t have). Perhaps the best development is his increasing ability to communicate. It’s always amazing to watch a child discover ways to communicate!

Superman is a climber!

Superman is a climber!

Lastly, I want to praise God for our routine! Yes, we have fallen into a good routine. It’s flexible and sometimes it just doesn’t work, but most days flow nicely. As long as Joshua naps in the morning AND the other three focus, we are able to finish school by lunchtime (1:00 p.m. for us). This gives me time to tend to Joshua’s needs, and it allows us to work together to keep the house relatively neat and tidy. I’m also thankful for the boys’ growing independence. They’re able to make themselves breakfast and lunch, and they can get themselves snacks. Of course, this requires that I make frequent trips to the grocery store to keep the house stocked with the “right’ foods. As time goes on, I hope their culinary skills improve and expand, but for now I’m just happy that I can delegate these tasks.

Maybe I shouldn't let Levi be on Joshua duty...

Maybe I shouldn’t let Levi be on Joshua duty…

Well, there it is. My list of blessings for September surprised me. By doing this simple act of thinking back over the past month and then writing down the ways I am blessed, I can acknowledge that God truly loves me, cares for me, and blesses me beyond measure. Thanks for sharing my journey. I hope you take the time to thank God for the ways He blesses you.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for being our Abba Father, who takes such good care of us.
  2. Please pray for my parents and the boys this weekend. Aaron and I will be away from Thursday through Sunday.
  3. Pray for us next week. It’s going to be a crazy one! Our container is scheduled to be packed on Friday! We have a lot of work to do before then.
  4. Praise God for good dental appointments! No cavities for the 3 boys!

 

 

 

 

On the Move

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Yesterday marked one month since our re-entry into our home country. In many ways it seems like it’s been much longer than that. So much has happened. Too much to wait until the end of the month to write about!

After living with another family for the first weeks, we moved back into our townhouse. The big boys are sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, while Joshua is in a pack-n-play in another room. We’re eating either around the kitchen island or outside on the deck since we don’t have a dining room table. Camping chairs and a card table furnish the living room. Boxes and piles of stuff are in every room. The smallish pile in the living room goes to Virginia, and the large pile in the dining room will be packed for Kenya. This living arrangement isn’t ideal, but it’s been our lives for the last few weeks as we sort, purge, and pack.

We're considering getting one of these for the basement in our Tenwek house!

We’re considering getting one of these for the basement in our Tenwek house!

Last week, we took 6 different planes and about as many cars to get from here to Colorado Springs and then from Colorado Springs to Indiana and then from Indiana back to Pennsylvania. We spent a week in Colorado to attend DAR (Debriefing and Renewal) at a little retreat center in the Black Forest. Each of the boys were in class from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. They had fun playing outside, meeting new friends, and learning how to process being a missionary living in the U.S. While they were occupied, Aaron and I processed our lives too. We didn’t get to go on field trips, but we did take time to pray, talk through life, visit with friends, and remember how big God is. It was beautiful, fun, and relaxing. So worth our time and money!

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In order to attend our World Gospel Mission interviews on Saturday, we left Colorado Springs a little early to fly to Indianapolis. Then, we had to drive almost 2 hours to Marion where the WGM headquarters are located. We reached our destination around 10 p.m. and we tried to crash. The big 3 boys did sleep right away. Unfortunately, though, Joshua had enough of the traveling and refused to sleep. Between all the attempts at getting him to sleep, Aaron and I got around 2 or 3 hours of sleep that night. While we missed the Friday evening events, we were able to attend all the meetings and interviews on Saturday despite our exhaustion. Things went really well. In fact, we felt at home at the headquarters even though we had never been there before. God was gracious to us in our sleep-deprived state. Just a few hours ago, we received confirmation that we will be going back to Tenwek with WGM! We are very excited to officially be a part of the WGM family!!

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This week is occupied with more packing as we anticipate our move to Virginia. With less than a week to go, we have a lot to do to get ourselves ready for the 6-hours of driving and the unpacking that will follow.

Today, as I was reading my devotional, God took me to Acts 20:24, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” What a good reminder that it’s not about me, for my life is about serving God. All the logistics, all the traveling, all the preparing and moving. It’s all for God’s glory!

Praises and Prayer Requests:  

  1. Praise God for being so big and yet so interested in every detail of our lives!
  2. Praise God for his faithfulness and trustworthiness. While we don’t know how everything will fall into place, God does. Please pray that we remember this truth in every moment of the next weeks.
  3. Praise God for the many blessings we’ve seen along the way thus far. From dinners with friends to unexpected provisions, we are so blessed. Please pray for us and the work crews helping us both here and in Virginia. Pray that all the packing and unpacking will be done safely and timely.
  4. Please pray for the boys as we move. Pray for a safe and smooth drive to Virginia. Pray for a great week of unpacking and settling into our new house.
  5. Pray for Aaron and I as we prepare for another trip at the end of July. This time we will go south and have only Joshua with us. While this will make our travels easier, it means the big 3 must sleep in yet another place. Surely, they are growing weary of the constant change! So far, they are doing so, so well in the midst of all this transition. (Even the DAR experts thought so!) However, I don’t want to push them too far! Please pray for their perseverance.

May and June Blessings

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Both May and June have been jam packed full of travel, adventure, stress, and blessings. I’ll apologize in advance for this lengthy post, but I just have to give God glory for His handiwork in our lives the past two months!

May 10, Mother’s Day, was a great way to begin the month. May 10 is also my father’s birthday, so this day was doubly blessed this year. We ate breakfast with Aunt Barbara and a few visitors to Tenwek. Noah, Jacob, and Levi each shared something that I had taught them. Noah won the non-contest for saying that I taught him math! We celebrated that my dad is still alive as a cancer survivor. But, of course, we also mourned that I can no longer be with all my children on Mother’s Day. We took this picture in front of our Tenwek apartment. Levi is holding a pink rose in remembrance of Hannah.

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A few days later, we packed up a few suitcases and headed to Nairobi for one last shopping trip. Then, we trekked to Naivasha for the Samaritan’s Purse Post Resident Retreat at Enashipai. It was a fun, relaxing, and rejuvenating time. While the teaching was nourishing to our souls and the pool was refreshing for our bodies, our favorite moment of the week was hiking at Hell’s Gate. The Mitchell six plus the Kelley 6 loaded the Chupp van and journeyed to the national park. Along the way, we saw giraffe, zebra, warthogs, etc. Then, we eluded monkeys while eating our lunches. And finally, we began the ‘lovely’ hike down the gorge and back up.

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The day after we returned to Tenwek, we participated and attended the Tenwek MK Fine Arts Festival. It’s an annual event for the missionary kids to display their best schoolwork and perform their best talents. Levi and his preschool class sung some songs. (It was adorable!) Jacob and his first grade class recited some Scripture. Noah, much to his liking, didn’t perform. However, he did display many of his favorite pieces of art.

The Kelley Corner at the Fine Arts Festival

The Kelley Corner at the Fine Arts Festival

As if that wasn’t enough adventure for the month, Aaron traveled to Tanzania a week later to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro! He, along with several other guys, drove to Nairobi, took a bus to Tanzania, and then hiked up the mountain. It took 4 days up and 2 days down. If you add in the travel to and from Nairobi, that meant I was acting as a single mom for 9 days.

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Aaron at one of his many farewell parties

Well, that brings us to the beginning of June and the end of our time at Tenwek. While Aaron was gone, I was in full pack down mode. I even hired a man to help me carry the heavy boxes I was packing! Once Aaron was back, we both started packing up everything in the house. It all needed to be out! A lot was given away. Even more was stored at Tenwek. The rest was packed into suitcases to come home with us.

In all this craziness, our Tenwek family supported us so well. Someone was always available to hold Joshua and/or entertain the big 3. Many of the families hosted us for a meal or brought us a meal. Everyone prayed us through this stressful, busy time of packing. We so appreciate our Tenwek community!

Finally, after all the hard work, we smushed ourselves and our bags into a van and headed to Nairobi. After one sleep at a guest house, we were on a plane to London! For the most part, this leg of the journey was uneventful. We all slept through the majority of the first 11 1/2 hour flight from Nairobi to Switzerland. Joshua wasn’t so happy during the short hop from Zurich to London, and Jacob almost lost his lunch/breakfast/whatever-meal several times. It’s a good things that flight was so short!

Next stop: Legoland!

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In an effort to transition from one culture to another in a smooth and healthy way, we opted to spend 3 nights in England. Many veteran missionaries had suggested taking an extended layover somewhere in Europe, and we thought that sounded like excellent (and fun) idea. I found a great deal at the Legoland Resort in Windsor, England. Although the expensive food was a shock to our minds (and wallets), Legoland proved to be as fun and decompressing as we had hoped.

Me (and Joshua) with Stephanie

Me (and Joshua) with Stephanie

The food was pretty good. The brick-shaped French fries were a hit. One night we ate a buffet dinner in the resort. All-you-can-eat ice cream and a kid-level counter of food were the highlights that night.

Noah and a giant, talking pharoah

Noah and a giant, talking pharaoh

The accommodations were excellent. We chose to stay on the Adventure floor. (Think Indiana Jones.) As soon as we entered our room, the boys began to solve a puzzle that would give them a code to open a treasure chest. Inside the chest was Legos (of course)! The TV had a Lego station. Everything was covered in Legos. From the Lego parrot in the one corner to the Lego soap in the bathroom, every detail was fun for the boys to discover.

Jacob and Yoda

Jacob and Yoda

At Legoland, the rides were all tailored to younger kids. Noah could ride all the rides by himself. Jacob and Levi, however, had to have an adult with them for many of them. With Joshua strapped to my chest the entire time, I was not allowed to participate on the rides, which meant Aaron had to ride a lot of rides. Often, he and Levi would ride the same time with Noah, and then he would ride again with Jacob while Noah and Levi stood with me and Joshua.

Levi in driving school

Levi in driving school

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Once we experienced as much fun Legoland had to offer for 2 full days, we packed up to board the plane from London to Newark. This flight went really well. We arrived to our temporary residence around 5:30pm on June 13. After dinner, we crashed for the night.

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My parents, Aaron’s mom and stepdad, my sister and her son came to the Ellis’ to see us the next day. Later that evening, we attended our welcome home party at our church. It was so, so nice to see so many of our friends and family members. At the party, we were presented an large envelope full of gift cards, which have come in handy the last few weeks!

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Since then, we had so many play dates and dinner dates with different people. It has been fun to reconnect with so many people. The boys are doing great despite their lack of memory of these people. We also had a family welcome home picnic near our hometown. Again, it was nice to see our aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. that we haven’t seen in 2 1/2 years.

one of the perks at staying at Peaceful Dale!

one of the perks at staying at Peaceful Dale!

Aaron spoke during church on Father’s Day to give the congregation a short update on our first term as missionaries. Then, so that Aaron, Joshua, and I could go to Lynchburg for his interview, the big 3 boys went to my parents’ house for 2 sleeps and Aaron’s mom’s house for 2 sleeps. Our travels started terribly as our car overheated within the first hour of driving. My dad was able to leave work to bring us my mom’s car. We arrived to Lynchburg safely and got to see our little rental house. The interview went well. Then, we traveled back to PA to get the boys. We ended up buying a minivan and a car the next day. God is good at providing what we need at just the right time!

Noah found a new creature to catch!

Noah found a new creature to catch!

With Aaron’s start date pushed back until August 1, we moved from the Ellis’ house to our townhouse in Allentown. Since then, we have been unpacking, purging, repacking, and still visiting with as many friends and family members as possible. It’s overwhelming to be managing our townhouse in PA, our rental in VA, and our future home at Tenwek. The logistics are crazy difficult to figure out, but God is faithful. Repeat it with me. God is faithful! 

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We took our first family visit to Hannah’s grave.

Praises and Prayer Requests: 

  1. Praise God for His constant provision for us. It’s amazing to see how He keeps giving us what we need at just the right time.
  2. Praise God for His peace that surpasses understanding! While I should be so stressed that I can’t sleep, I have a peace that all these details will be fine. Our Father God is a good, faithful God. He is trustworthy. He will see us through this crazy time of transition.
  3. Please pray for wisdom in selling or renting our townhouse.
  4. Please pray for us as we travel this coming week to do our official debriefing from July 5-10. Another time zone change. Another strange place to sleep. More packing. More logistics. More flights.
  5. Please pray for us July 10-12 during our candidate review with World Gospel Mission. Another time change. Another full day of interviews. More flights. More logistics. Then more unpacking.
  6. Please pray blessings upon all those people who are helping us with all these details! We so appreciate them!!

I was reading the Bible in 1 Timothy today, so I’ll close with the words of Paul: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.” (1:12) I’ll continue to follow Him wherever He leads. “Here is a trustworthy says that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1:15-17) Amen!

 

 

 

April Blessings

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Another month has come and gone. It was a FULL month. Easter, retreat, vacation, and much more. Here are the highlights…with lots of pictures! (May is turning out to be just as full…hence the late April post!)

The first big moment of April: Joshua got his first taste of food! We started with rice cereal, which he loved, a little before 6 months because I needed something to hide his malaria medicine in! (We needed to take the medicine to go to the coast.)

Joshua LOVES food!

Joshua LOVES food!

Easter is a special time at Tenwek. Our celebrations began with a Saturday morning egg hunt. The boys had a great time.

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Then, on Easter Sunday, a sunrise service starts the morning. Due to kid sleep issues, we did not attend this year. We were up and ready for the church service at 10, but first we had to eat bunny pancakes and check out the Easter baskets. Daddy found each boy a dragon toy, and the oldest 3 received fun things to take on vacation.

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I found the boys some presentable Easter outfits, and we headed up the hill for church. Then, we changed into regular clothes to join another family for Easter lunch. Ham, chicken, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls, and corn casserole filled our tummies to overflowing. When we couldn’t fit another bite of dessert into our bodies, we returned home to do our family Easter egg hunt.

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They love wearing their ‘fancy church clothes’ to church!

Right after Easter, we packed up what seemed like our entire house for a two-week getaway. The first part of this time away from Tenwek was the WGM Retreat. At the last minute, the venue was changed, so we ended up spending several nights in the mountains of Naivasha. It was a beautiful place.

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Despite the cool mountain air, the boys enjoyed pool time.

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Noah’s favorite part of the pool: the slide from the kiddie pool to the big pool.

We also enjoyed a Levi-lead safari, watching zebras wander on the golf course, and great fellowship with lots of other missionaries.

Levi was babysitting Joshua so that I could shower...He needed to take a selfie to show me how great he was doing!

Levi was babysitting Joshua so that I could shower…He needed to take a selfie to show me how great he was doing!

Only a day after the retreat was over, we flew to the coast for a week-long family vacation. It was amazing! Joshua is a complete beach bum. Levi, Jacob, and Noah were maniacs in the pool and the ocean. Aaron enjoyed snorkeling, and I loved not worrying about meal-planning, cooking, laundry, and teaching!

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Noah, Jacob, and Levi riding camels on the beach. Really? How much better can life get?

Noah and Jacob went out on a glass bottom boat with Aaron. They found Nemo!

Noah and Jacob went out on a glass bottom boat with Aaron. They found Nemo!

He loved the ocean, the sand, and the pool!

He loved the ocean, the sand, and the pool!

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This one couldn’t get enough of the sand and water, but he doesn’t appreciate that he’s at the Indian Ocean. 🙂

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Jacob was fearless in the ocean this year. He spent a lot of time on (and falling off) this raft.

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Noah might have spent more time under the water than above the water!

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And we got a date night!! We went to a really yummy restaurant in a cave. Yes, a cave with the night sky as the roof. Amazing!

Shortly after returning to Tenwek, Joshua turned 6 months old! He’s eating food, sitting, and acting like such a big boy. I love watching him initiate interactions with his brothers. He has a really special and unique bond with each of his brothers. I took Joshua up to the hospital for a vaccine and a weight check. He weighs about 16.5 pounds. Here is a picture of how they weigh babies here at Tenwek!

Where's Joshua?

Where’s Joshua? That’s right, he’s in the sheet hanging off the scale!

We ended the month with another intern pizza night! Several of the new interns enjoyed their first EVER taste of pizza on this fun night! I made 14 pizzas this time around, and there wasn’t any left when the last intern left our house. The ladies enjoyed snuggling Joshua until he went to bed. The only sad part of the evening was when this new class of interns realized that we won’t be here to celebrate their graduation in a year. Please pray for them during this stressful, busy time of training. Also, pray that the remaining missionaries will pour into these young professionals’ lives.

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This is what your front porch looks like when your house is full of interns on pizza night.

I started memorizing 2 Peter this month too, so I’ll end with a quote from that book.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these has has given us his very good and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for rest and relaxation this month! It was much needed and so appreciated. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful country. Praise God for his creation!

2. Praise God for health! We rejoice that Joshua is growing and developing so well. Noah, Jacob, and Levi are healthy and growing so quickly too.

3. Praise God for godly men and women in Kenya. We are privileged to work alongside them, disciple them, and rejoice with them in what God is doing in Kenya.

4. Praise God for his free gift of salvation! We are grateful for the death, life, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, who paid the ultimate price for our sins. We pray that many more people will spend eternity in heaven as a result of the work of God’s children around the world. To God be the glory!

5. Please pray for us as we pack up the house, travel, and transition back into American life. We are overwhelmed with details on both sides of the ocean! Pray that God will reign supreme in our lives, that the details won’t become idols that distract us from HIM!

We so appreciate your prayers! We look forward to seeing many of you within the coming year!!

Levi’s Poor, Sad Reality

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We moved to Kenya when Levi was 2 1/2 years old. We knew he wouldn’t remember much about America, but we’re realizing just how little he remembers the older he gets!

Levi (age 2 1/2) when we first arrived in Kenya

Levi (age 2 1/2) when we first arrived in Kenya

Last night at dinner, the word “applesauce” was mentioned. I think it was my doing. I made fruit crisp for dessert. The boys devoured it, and I said, “I should puree canned peaches to put in applesauce. Instead of bananas.” I meant to say “to put in baked oatmeal,” so I’m not sure why “applesauce” came out of my mouth. I’ve never made applesauce in my life! I have no need to do it, because my wonderful mother-in-law cans enough for us to eat applesauce every day of the year…when we’re in the States, that is. Here, applesauce is a rarity in the stores (not that it would be worth buying due to high costs and incomparable taste!), and apples are available all year. The point of applesauce is to preserve apples for the winter months, right? We have to pay over 30 Ksh/apple, which is quite steep compared to many other fruits (i.e., an entire pineapple costs 50 Ksh). Applesauce isn’t worth my time and money, at least not in my opinion, especially in this season of life.

Anyway, Aaron, Noah, Jacob and I were discussing how much we love applesauce and how much we miss it. I mentioned that Nana should teach the boys how to make it when she visits in November. That way, we could indulge in some of the sweet goodness AND I’d never have to make it! When I’m in the States, I could just eat Nana’s applesauce. And then, the boys could make it for special occasions when we’re living in Kenya. Perfect plan, huh? During this entire conversation, Levi was just listening and apparently waiting for an opportunity to solve all our woes. He piped up, “Momma, you don’t know how to do applesauce? I can show you! It’s easy. Just criss cross applesauce, hands in your lap,” with a huge, proud smile on his face. Aaron and I exchanged looks, not knowing if we should laugh at the humor, cry at the sadness of the fact that our Levi doesn’t know what applesauce tastes like, or compliment him on his helpful instructions. We chose laughter with expressed sadness and then we thanked him for his help on this serious matter.

The boys a few weeks ago.

Noah, picking up on our sarcasm, proceeded to ask Levi, “Levi, do you know what McDonald’s is?” (Remember how we saw one in Greece and Levi was completely clueless?) Levi proudly responded, “Yes! Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O!” We all cracked up laughing, but poor Levi didn’t get it. He thought he was right on both fronts. He was quite proud of himself for following the conversation and being able to join in!

Then, Noah asked him if he remembers Chick-fil-A, which is a place he frequented in the States, much more often than McDonald’s. Of course, Levi was still clueless. He was just too little when we moved here. Overall, this isn’t a bad thing. Kenya is a wonderful place to grow up. He has more cultural knowledge than most 4-year-olds in America. He’s learning a second language. He’s a very adventurous eater. He’s benefitting greatly from our life overseas. However, his lack of a memory of America makes me a little worried about how he’ll react when we’re back in the States. I’m sure he’ll be fine. It will be fun to watch him discover our homeland with fresh almost-5-year-old eyes. Then, we’ll get to see what things he remembers when we return to Kenya.

Be prepared, America! We’re returning in June 2015…and we’ll be eating applesauce, Chick-fil-A and lots, lots more!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for the different cultures!

2. Praise God for the privilege of seeing the world through our children’s eyes!

3. Praise God for His faithfulness to missionaries, especially as we must live in two very different cultures. May we choose to enjoy all the good each culture has to offer. And may we use our differences as opportunity for iron to sharpen iron.

4. I’m 30 weeks and growing! Please continue to pray for Joshua. Pray that he’ll be a healthy, full-term baby; that he wouldn’t cause me too much pain or anxiety; and that he will be a happy, healthy baby throughout infancy (and the rest of his life…that’s not asking too much, right?).

It's the end of the day. Hence, my bloated belly and sleepy eyes! I assure you that I look a little lighter and brighter in the morning!

It’s the end of the day. Hence, my bloated belly and sleepy eyes! I assure you that I look a little lighter and brighter in the morning! 🙂

I’ll finish with Jacob’s memory verses.

Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.